7 Leadership Insights: Leveraging Technology During a Crisis

There’s no question that the coronavirus is a humanitarian tragedy, disrupting all our lives for the foreseeable future. Changing the way we work and highlighting the need to be effective, efficient and innovative in business. This blog gives leaders insights on how to leverage technology to support employee needs and customer demands.

The choice to work remotely has been a growing trend for several years; as of last week, it is a way of life for all. The internet, cloud computing and mobile phones have enabled and empowered workforces to remain connected across geographies — a literal lifesaver as we all stay indoors to avoid further contagion.

The challenge for most is how do we remain productive and keep our companies running smoothly and securely?

1- Leading with empathy

Many in the workforce won’t know if their jobs and families are safe, so focussing on what customers need may not be at the front of their minds. It is, therefore, critical to ensure you connect with your team members regularly and have a way to capture ongoing conversations and customer care issues.

Now is the time to be precise and clear in communicating your organisation’s plans, both internally and externally.

“Transparency is one of our key values”, says Luke Pigott, CEO at PhiX. “It was critical for us to be open with the team about how we planned to operate in the weeks ahead. Being transparent and open builds trust and cohesion. Enabling us to problem solve in the face of adversity.”

2 – Preparing for the pace of change

Whether a business experiences a surge or a lull in demand during the Coronavirus crisis, your IT systems and leaders need to prepare. If customer questions and concerns on orders are likely to increase, building capacity for self-service via chatbots, apps and email can help manage the frequently asked questions. Freeing up your customer service teams to handle more complex queries.

If you require more compassion in the circumstances, then virtual meetings or phone calls are needed, which is especially paramount in the B2B and education sector.

Individuals switching to virtual conferences or video is on the rise and enables a broader, more global audience than the classroom facilitates! One example is Joe Wicks PE Class, which reached nearly 1 million people this morning globally.

The need to adapt products to meet current demand is critical, as we have seen with Zara, the fast-fashion brand. Who announced that they would donate face masks and hospital gowns for Coronavirus patients and healthcare workers in Spain amid the shortage caused by the pandemic. The Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp has converted one of its factories to make face masks. Showing the ability to shift physical and digital resources in support of the global crisis. Perfume-makers, including Givenchy and Christian Dior, have switched production to make hand sanitisers.

3 – Is this the new normal?

Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner, says, “Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now and over the long term.”

No business processes are perfect, but when multiple issues arise, it delays projects and causes financial risk. Having a continuous process improvement plan to review operations will highlight bottlenecks. Ensuring you are proactively managing processes and methods.

It’s no good sticking plasters over the gaps in your workflow as we’re going to be in this for an unknown length of time.

Some changes may be incremental, a small change that can be applied to a process to make things run smoothly. Give your team a place to share these suggestions and review them regularly.

Breakthrough improvement projects are more significant changes that yield business-altering results; they can take longer to implement but will drive considerable returns. At PhiX, we help companies review their business processes to work through these projects to streamline their operations.

4 – Marketing in uncertain times

Getting the balance right between promotion and cost-cutting is a difficult one.

The rapid repositioning of the government strategy to manage the spread of the Coronavirus signals a change that dramatically alters all our lives. For businesses, the full impact is still unknown, and for many, the challenge will be surviving.

Costs, product lines, supply chain and headcount will be carefully examined as well as marketing spending and strategies. Marketing can appear to be an expense to cut in downturns. But when the economy starts to pick up again, the ones that will thrive are those that balance operational efficiency with strategic investment, with marketing being a key element.

Progressive companies stay closely connected to customer needs—a powerful filter through which to make investment decisions.

What new marketing strategies can you adopt to ensure your business survives the pandemic and becomes stronger?

“It’s only when we get kicked down that we see what we are made of. It’s easy to be positive when everything is going well, but the heart of all great endeavours is the ability to stagger back to our feet and keep moving forward, however grim it gets.”

Bear Grylls

5 – Community makes us stronger

Being part of the solution involves supporting your community, whether it’s geographic or industry-specific. Together we are more robust and calling on others to help you is vital to short-term problem solving and long-term success.

Salesforce Chair and CEO Marc Benioff shared that to support the global response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; Salesforce is providing a COVID-19 Response Package. The pack offers free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centres, and care management teams for health systems affected by Coronavirus.

What action can you take to support your local or industry community to aid the fight against the virus?

6 – Resourcing for the short-term

Agile planning of your most valuable resource is critical at this time. Having a long-term plan will work as an overview to keep you focused but being able to plan, track and forecast your team’s time will keep you moving at speed. Precursive’s resource management product allows you to find the right people for projects, allocate work quicker and balance workloads for your team. They are also working closely with Salesforce to bring out a community-based product to support remote teams.

An example of this on a large scale is the U.K. government’s appeal on Tuesday for 250,000 “people in good health” to help its health service cope with the coronavirus outbreak. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on the same day that 11,788 retired NHS staff had agreed to come back to work to help tackle the crisis.

PhiX offers our consultancy services to Salesforce.org clients to support healthcare and manufacturing organisations when they need it most. We will be strong enough to see this through by pulling together our best resources.

7 – Practical and social solutions for remote working

Did you know research shows a lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?  So, check in on colleagues, friends, family and neighbours regularly.

If you are used to working from home, then there’s no change to your work set-up. But for many, adapting and learning to communicate virtually is a steep learning curve.

Practical solutions like Quip for collaboration, Google Hangout for team chats, and Zoom for video conferencing are rising as the winning solutions. For digital documents, e-signatures with Conga make contract management faster and more simplified. Salesforce Trailhead provides free learning resources on working remotely, as does LinkedIn Learning.

Quip combines documents and collaboration so that wherever we are, you can share and align ideas, update communications and stay in the loop with discussions. Quip Starter will be available for free to any Salesforce customer or non-profit organisation through September 30, 2020.

“Our ability to socialise has been degraded,”

Says Jonathan Corrie, CEO of Precursive who has introduced ‘Wine Wednesday’ with the team as a space to unwind with colleagues. “Whether it’s an alcoholic drink or not, the idea is to connect socially, just like you would in a wine bar or outside of the workplace. The team also has a daily nonsense call to chat, hang out with staff members, and share whatever is on their mind.”

With many approaching the end of their first week of social isolation, what have you learnt about your employee needs? About the needs of your community and your industry to cope with the current crisis? What issues have come up repeatedly or do you see as potential risks to your business workflow?

Get in touch if you need support with your Salesforce CPQ or Billing processes pre- or post-implementation. Or if you would like to learn more about the products that can help streamline remote working.